Retired at 95, Printer Turns 100August 2003
Wetzel Brothers would also be the first to purchase six- and eight-color presses in its market. "I had an affinity for sheetfed printing. There was a fork in the road where I had to decide whether to invest in sheetfed or web. I had faith that the market would continue to sustain the sheetfed press," he reveals. "I also knew that the web market would take a considerable amount of capital. So we decided to differentiate ourselves in the sheetfed arena by offering high-quality lithography," Wetzel says.
Wetzel eventually sold his company to Consolidated Graphics at the age of 95 because he determined that the additional investment in building and equipment that was becoming necessary would be ill-advised at his age. "Although I had planned ahead and had a long-term lease at a very favorable rate, it had run out because I had not planned to live this long," he notes.
Wetzel said he decided to sell to Consolidated Graphics because he believed that Consolidated would keep the Wetzel Brothers name and continue to carry on Wetzel Brothers' tradition of quality and innovation. Since its purchase, Consolidated Graphics has expanded the operation, added staffing and moved the company into a new 75,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the Airport.
Although Wetzel visits the company from time to time, he now stays busy with his hobbies that include collecting Napoleonic memorabilia. Wetzel and Napoleon share the same birthday, which is what initially inspired him to begin his collection. He also indulges in his passions as a gourmet chef and still attends the Chicago Lyrical Opera on a regular basis with his wife, Heide.
As he sits in the new Wetzel Brothers plant and surveys how far his company and the industry have come in his lifetime, Wetzel continues to be amazed. "A complex point-of-sale program for a national company that would have taken me six weeks to complete just 10 years ago, Wetzel Brothers can now complete in just a couple of days."